“Tomorrow’s Giants” – Nature Hosts Upcoming Conference to Look Out at Sci

How will lawyers and judges ever keep up with science as we trudge along seeking certainty. ?Scientists, on the other hand, like to look ahead and theorize. Thus, the UK’s Royal Society and Nature are celebrating the Society’s 350th anniversary (really, 350 years) by hosting a July 1, 2010, conference to look forward at what science will look like in 50 years. The broad topics are pasted below, and are focused around data, careers, and measurement. (BTW, you can see great science videos here from the Society.)

One wonders what the conference speakers will foresee on the data front given Moore’s law of computing power doubling ever two years ("Moore’s law describes a long-term trend in the history of computing hardware, in which the number of transistors that can be placed inexpensively on an integrated circuit has doubled approximately every two years."). Think also about giant projects, such as the data generated from atom smashing at CERN. Or, go here to read about the University of Illinois National Center for Supercomputing Applications that is working with the federal government to build the next world’s larget publicy accessible computer system – Bluewaters, a petaflop system. How big is that ? " A petaflop is one quadrillion calculations per second." Or, go here and read about how the world of computing power looks to a computer guy who loves reading semi-annual lists of the world’s 500 largest computer systems.

Set out below is a short view of the conference; go here for more specifics.

"The Tomorrow’s Giants conference is part of an exciting week of celebrations for the Royal Society’s 350th anniversary, which will include an extended Summer Science Exhibition at Southbank Centre, London. To be held on Thursday 1st July 2010, this one day conference co-hosted by the Royal Society and Nature, will bring together scientists and policymakers to gather scientists’ visions of the next 50 years looking in particular at the following three themes:

Data: The challenge of curating and supporting databases in the future and ethical concerns around the storage and management of certain types of data.

Careers: mechanisms for providing security and support for research careers.

Measuring and Assessment: the use of performance indicators and the challenge of having appropriate checks without inhibiting research.

In the lead up to the conference the Royal Society hosted regional meetings across the country in Edinburgh, Liverpool, Bath, Oxford, Cambridge, Nottingham and London. We invited over 100 scientists to share and exchange views on these issues and this Nature Network forum is an opportunity for you to add to the discussion. We’re taking your views from both the workshops and this forum to make sure that the right questions get asked at the conference next year so here is your opportunity to contribute to the discussion of the issues impacting on the shape of science in the next 10-50 years.

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Since becoming a lawyer in 1983, Kirk’s over 30 years of practice have focused on advising a wide range of corporations, associations, and individuals (as both plaintiffs and defendants) on both tort and commercial law issues centered around “mass torts.”

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